he position of Professor Wendell can be most fairly stated in his own words. After a hasty review of the early drama, he says of Shakspere:--
"The better one knows his surroundings, the more clearly one begins to perceive that his chief peculiarity, when compared with his contemporaries, was a somewhat sluggish avoidance of needless invention. When anyone else had done a popular thing, Shakspere was pretty sure to imitate him and do it better. But he hardly ever did anything first. To his contemporaries he must have seemed deficient in originality, at least as compared with Lilly, or Marlowe, or Ben Jonson, or Beaumont and Fletcher. He was the most obviously imitative dramatist of all, following rather than leading superficial fashion."
Professor Wendell proceeds to give what he is pleased to call examples of Shakspere's "lack of superficial originality," whatever that may mean, and assumes that he "had certainly done years of work as a dramatic hack-writer" before the appearance of "Venus and A
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